7 Questions From Teens About Abusing Easy-to-find Substances

Addiction researchers answer questions about everything from Vicodin to cleaning supplies.

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently offered adolescents the first ever "Drug Facts Chat Day." Students from high schools and middle schools across the country submitted anonymous questions online—about alcohol, the brain, addiction, and everything in between—to NIDA scientists, including some of the nation's top experts in substance abuse. The scientists then responded with personalized, nonjudgmental answers. Below is a sample of the inquiries that relate specifically to prescription drugs and other substances around the house. All the questions and answers below are unedited.

Among the scientists were Nora Volkow, director of NIDA; Joe Frascella, director of Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at NIDA; Kevin Conway, deputy director of NIDA's Division of Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research; Nicolette Borek, a NIDA psychologist in the Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research who oversees research on how exposure to drugs of abuse during the prenatal period affects a baby's brain and behavioral development; and Cora Lee Wetherington, NIDA's coordinator for research aimed at promoting the study of women and sex and gender differences into all areas of drug abuse.—Compiled by Sarah Baldauf

7 Questions Teens have about Prescriptions and Substances Around the House:

wrca - Columbia High School - How big of an effect does cough med. have on people that use is a lot to get high?

Nora Volkow - there's a chemical in many cough syrups called dextromethorphan that can negatively impact a person's health. some of the effects include distorted perceptions of sight and sound and it can produce feelings of detachment - dissociation - from the environment and self. wild wild west - voorhees middle school - How addictive are prescription drugs?

Joe Frascella - Great question! It turns out that prescription drugs, when not taken as prescribed, can be very highly addictive. We have found that long-term use also can lead to physical dependence, a condition where the body adapts to the presence of the substance and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced abruptly. This can also include tolerance, which means that higher doses of a medication must be taken to obtain the same initial effects. You might be interested to know that physical dependence is not the same as addiction, physical dependence can occur even with appropriate long-term use of opioid and other medications. Addiction is defined as compulsive, often uncontrollable drug use in spite of negative consequences. And, prescription drugs can become very addictive when not used properly.For more information specifically on prescription drugs, you might want to check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/PainMed.html. Also, to learn more about addiction in general, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/ DIVA - Eastern High School - whats the difference between prescription drugs and illegal substnaces

Kevin Conway - Prescription drugs are permitted by law as long as they come from a medical doctor. They are prescribed to people for medical problems to help them get well or to ease their suffering.Illegal substances are generally not prescribed by physicians. However, prescription drugs can be used illegally when people take them in a way they were not intended, or if they were prescribed for someone else. It is important to use the prescription drugs as your doctor told you to — and not to share them or use them for other purposes. Using these drugs to get "high" is unhealthy and dangerous, and some prescription drugs are addictive — just like illegal drugs. plbaby - Point Loma high school - some of my friends drink a lot of cough medicine to get high? is that dangerous?

Nicolette Borek - It is dangerous - dextromethorphan, which is often abbreviated DXM, is the drug in cough syrup that gives the high and abusing it can lead to various negative side effects especially if it is used along with alcohol.